Rotor Embedded Actuator Control Technology (REACT)

Lead Participant: Agustawestland Limited


The helicopter’s main rotor determines key aspects of the vehicle’s performance capability and operating economics. Next generation Active Rotor blade technologies, which introduce moving or shape changing elements into the rotor blade, offer a step change possibilities in capability over current ‘passive’ rotor blade designs. Helicopter vibration can also be significantly reduced by cancelling the vibration at its source in the rotor blade.
The purpose of REACT (Rotor Embedded Actuation Control Tecnhonolgy) is therefore to explore technologies and capabilities that provide the necesary groundwork towards developing future generation flight trialed active rotor technology. In order to achieve this a consortium of expert University centres have teamed with AgustaWestland (helicopter designer and manufacturer with a world wide sales base). The programme is split into the following activity sections:
• Enabling Technologies - Each of the University centres conducts research into key capability requirements as well as the development of design tools that will be used to progress Active Rotor designs. Involved are The University of Bristol (power electronics), University of Liverpool (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and the University of Leicester (controls and algorithms).
• Active rotor system demonstrators (AgustaWestland) - These consist of a model rotor test, a wind tunnel test of a section of full scale blade incorporating an active rotor section and the design of a future generation full scale active rotor blade. The first two elements provide critical data, via experiment, that feeds into the full blade design that will untimately be flight tested via a future programme of work.
• Development of an Active damper to reduce vibration, sourced at the rotor blade, within the rotor hub environment.
The active rotor system needs drive novel and difficult solutions for electrical power transfer, signal transfer and software control systems, all of which need to operate reliably in a harsh helicopter environment with large aerodynamic and vibratory loads, and across rotating machinery (helicopter fuselage to rotor system.) There is a significant impact upon the design and manufacturing processes of the blade and the aircraft's flight control systems, and the durability and costs of maintaining the new systems must be viable. Additionally, the Active Rotor is obviously a critical helicopter system and must be proven to ‘fail safe’. AgustaWestland is therefore examining the manufacturing implications, operational capabilities, performance potential, flight safety, and control issues of the activated blade.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Agustawestland Limited, SOMERSET £7,461,812 £ 3,081,182


University of Liverpool, United Kingdom £680,407 £ 680,407
University of Bristol, United Kingdom £513,114 £ 513,114
University of Leicester, United Kingdom £196,830 £ 196,830


10 25 50